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The Reentry Project

 

Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez (second from left) with fellow staff, interns and leaders from the Reentry Project, including Policy Specialist Jonathan Holmes (far right).

The Reentry Project is managed by a steering committee of formerly incarcerated women and men, service providers, educators and advocates, assisted by Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez. It addresses barriers to community reentry, with a focus on improving access to housing and employment.

The Reentry Project designed a housing pilot, enacted by the Chicago and Cook County housing authorities, that allows reentry service providers to certify high-performing clients as qualifying for access to subsidized housing. Instead of imposing a five-year wait, the housing authorities will allow certified ex-offenders to access a unit or rejoin family.

Ready for implementation in 2015, the housing authorities both committed to house 50 people through their three-year pilots.

The Reentry Project also pursues initiatives to allow ex-offenders to access job opportunities that will help them rebuild their lives. In 2016, CCH was a partner in a coalition that passed four job-access bills in schools, park districts and health care.

CCH’s Reentry Project is part of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), organized in 2015 with Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic, Community Renewal Society, and Heartland Alliance. RROCI advocates for policies that would remove barriers for people in reentry, including lifetime employment bans.

In its 2010 study, Barred from Housing, the Reentry Project asked the Chicago Housing Authority to end its automatic rejection of applicants who were on probation less than five years. Instead, CHA was asked to inform applicants that there is an appeal process available, and allow those who are denied to present a case that they have changed their lives. By 2013, the CHA adopted this appeals process, and the Reentry Project began to advocate the housing pilots.

The Reentry Project receives project-based grant support from The William R. Johnson Family Foundation.

For more information, contact Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez or Policy Specialist Jonathan Holmes